All change: URL shorteners

bit.ly

Back in August 2009 I wrote a post explaining how to shorten a URL in order to share it on Twitter and other social networks. When every character counts, as in the 140 characters permitted per tweet, then a URL can take up far too many characters, and in the worst cases be longer by themselves than 140 characters! So shortening services sprang up, to take a URL and produce a much shorter one that could be shared and would redirect the user to the right web address.

This time last year I was recommending tinyurl.com but that already seems like an antique! There are many shortening services now with much shorter URLs. Twitter apps offer instant conversion of your long URL without you having to do anything, and social media sharing apps distribute content from, e.g., WordPress to Twitter automatically without you having to do any URL fiddling.

I still like to use bit.ly whenever possible, however, as it has useful statistics that report how often a link has been clicked on, and how many of those were from a link you posted. It’s not just useful as a shortener but to monitor those clicks. You can see what kind of content your Twitter followers click on, so that you can offer them more of the same, and you can follow some (but not all) of the “conversations” across the Web incorporating your links. I particularly like being able to choose my own link (provided no-one else has snaffled it), for example, http://bit.ly/elesig for the ELESIG community of practice. The link itself is actually slightly longer than the URL http://elesig.net but provides that useful tracking information.

Are there better services? Let me know!

2 comments

  • I’ve seen some *very* short ones (though blowed if I can remember what they are!)
    However, given the way of things internet, I tend to stick to is.gd – because it seems pretty stable & longlasting (even if you can’t have personalised links)
    I’ve just found http://long-shore.com/services – which seems to have a *vast* list of them – rather like some of those towards the end which seem to have a wingding character before the .ws

  • bit.ly is great – with one caveat; In my experience it doesn’t report clicks from iphones/ipods. As a result you may have more hits than you think.